Organic Latex Mattress Buying Guide


So, you’re looking for a new organic latex mattress? Confused yet? It’s not hard to become confused with all the information, misinformation and conflicting facts you may find about the new mattress you are looking to buy. There are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for that mattress and a few things to never forget in that search. If you remember these simple things, shopping for the perfect organic latex mattress will become a lot clearer and will ensure you get what it is you are looking for, and, more important, what you are paying for.

One of the most important things to remember is to not forget what it is that you are looking for. Sounds like a complicated statement, but it’s a vital one in your search for your organic mattress. Basically, what it means is to not lose sight of your mission. Don’t let someone talk you into something that you know isn’t what you want. If you want a truly organic mattress, don’t settle for anything less. There are many retailers out there selling organic mattresses. Some companies that sell truly organic mattresses and some that do not. Before you begin comparing mattresses, you need to compare companies. Begin by weeding out the ones that aren’t 100% organic.

ORGANIC LATEX MATTRESS. This can mean different things to different people and organic can definitely mean something different to you than to the manufacturer that is building your mattress. If you are looking for and paying for organic, make sure you are getting 100% organic components in your mattress. The law says that if a manufacturer puts as little as 8% organic materials into their product they can call that product organic. Yes, I said 8%! Why bother, right? Be sure the product says it is 100% organic. If it doesn’t, you are not getting a truly organic product. And, after all, isn’t that what you are paying for?

Don’t be fooled by a ‘pure’ product. Just because a product says that it is pure, doesn’t mean it’s organic. In fact, most manufacturers that use “pure” or some term other than organic to describe their raw goods are in fact NOT using organic ingredients in their mattresses. Some manufacturers will go as far as telling you un-truths to cover the fact they are not using organic. For instance, some companies will tell you that organic wool is dirty and filled with feces. That’s absolutely, 100% not true and is simply a selling tactic to cover the fact they do not use organic wool in their mattresses. Organic wool, like any other wool used in the manufacturing industry, is washed with natural and earth-friendly soaps. Organic wool is more expensive to produce and when a manufacturer is looking to cut costs, wool is a simple thing to skimp on. Non-organic wool affords the manufacturer lower costs and better profit margins while the consumer is left with an inferior, non-organic product. The organic mattress market is becoming very competitive as the popularity of organic products continues to grow. Insist on organic wool and be sure to check out the manufacturers certificates for the organic wool. Reputable retailers will have these certificates readily available. For your convenience, some retailers have links to their certificates on their website. Don’t stop there. Follow up on those certificates. Call the supplier and verify that the manufacturer you are considering purchasing your mattress from is indeed buying their products from the supplier they have the certificates for. Insisting on organic wool is the only way to be sure there is nothing in your wool that you don’t want there.

By Federal law, ANY AND ALL mattresses manufactured and sold in the United States must pass a flame test. Under the law, a mattress must be subjected to a flame for 70 seconds before it ignites. How this is achieved varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but most manufacturers achieve this by using chemicals. These chemicals (Boric acid, Antimony and Decabromodiphenyl Oxide) are the same chemicals that have been banned in Europe for years and the same chemicals that are used in pesticides to kill roaches and have been linked to reproductive and developmental diseases, heart and lung damage, hair and memory loss, SIDS, birth defects, skin irritation and are believed to be carcinogens. Continued exposure to these chemicals cause accumulation in the body and present themselves in breast milk, the blood stream and in umbilical cord fluids.

Some organic mattress manufacturers produce an organic product only to spray it down with these chemicals to pass the flame law test. So while you are buying an organic mattress, that does not necessarily mean you are buying a chemical-free mattress. It only means you are buying a mattress made with organic materials that have been sprayed with chemicals. Imagine the hypocrisy! This is where the importance of organic wool becomes apparent. Naturally, wool is a fire retardant. Wool doesn’t burn when exposed to a flame. When wool is used in an ample amount (an inch compressed) it becomes a fire retardant that passes the federal flame law requirements, making chemicals no longer necessary. While it is more costly to use wool, a true organic mattress manufacturer goes the extra step to be sure that your mattress is chemical free and truly organic. By the way, there are other fire-proofing methods available that are not chemical, but they also are not natural or organic. Be sure to ask if the manufacturer is using organic wool for fire retardant in the organic mattress.

Another consideration when purchasing a new organic latex mattress is the type of cover that the manufacturer uses. The cover should be 100% organic. While there are different options for the type of material used in the cover, cotton is the best option. Bamboo, on the other hand, is a poor choice because of the process it goes through to be made into a fabric. Many hazardous chemicals are required to process bamboo thus making it “un-organic.” Most bamboo fabric is manufactured in China where the employees are subjected to poor working conditions and little or no ventilation. There are many “gimmick” fabrics available, such as aloe vera and lavender infused fabrics that are supposed to help with one ailment or another. Honestly, don’t waste your money. They don’t work. And if they did, they wouldn’t be able to make it through your sheets to get to your body. Hemp is good quality fabric but tends to be more expensive than cotton with no additional benefits. While the cover is the one part of the mattress that you will come in contact with, many manufacturers use a cheap, sometimes uncomfortable cover on their mattresses. The cover should be soft and comfortable to the touch. Although sheets should always be used on your mattress, a rough, uncomfortable cover will come through the sheets and make your sleeping experience less than desirable. If you are unsure about the cover that is being used to make your mattress, ask for a sample to be sent to you so you can feel it out before you buy the mattress. Any reputable company would be more than happy to fill your request. A lot of companies will send you a sample pack of all the ingredients that make up their bed, but this is simply overkill and an unnecessary gesture. Unless you are concerned about latex allergies, the latex used in your mattress is pretty much the same from company to company.

Next, be sure the latex that comprises the bed you are considering is 100% natural latex. There are different types of latex available, including natural and synthetic latex and a combination of both. Synthetic latex contains synthetic ingredients and chemicals that are in no way natural. Whether you are considering Talalay or Dunlop latex, be sure that it is 100% natural latex. While there are a few other ingredients in natural latex (zinc oxide, fatty acid soaps and sulfur) rest assured, they are natural ingredients. Be careful not to fall for the “Dunlop/Talalay latex is the best and we only carry the best” tactic. Many manufacturers only carry one type of latex and will tell you that the latex they carry is the best. However, both Talalay latex and Dunlop latex are equally good products and a reputable company will offer you the choice. One rule of thumb to remember about the difference between the two types of latex is that Talalay latex will typically be softer than Dunlop latex of the same firmness category. For example, soft Talalay latex will be softer than soft Dunlop latex. Some manufacturers will try to confuse you by telling you that there is no such thing as natural Talalay latex. And, up until a few years ago, that was true. However, Latex International now makes a 100% natural Talalay latex product. Another consideration for the latex in your bed is the amount of latex that actually makes up the bed. Sure, a manufacturer can say that the latex in the bed is 100% natural, but that doesn’t mean that the 100% natural latex comprises the whole bed, only that the latex in the bed is 100% natural. If you are buying a 12″ mattress and the mattress contains 6″ of latex, something else has to make up that other 6″. After allowing for the wool or cotton that also make up the mattress, usually around 2″, what else comprises the mattress? The answer is usually polyurethane. Many companies, in order to keep costs down, will use a 6″ polyurethane core with 2″ of latex on top. That’s right, polyurethane. Why would you want to sleep on the same stuff that gasoline is made from?

Another trick of the organic mattress trade is to use latex that has sand fillers. Technically, the latex that uses sand fillers is still natural because sand is indeed natural. However, if you are buying a latex mattress, you want 100% natural LATEX. A reputable company manufacturing 100% natural Dunlop latex with no sand fillers is Green Latex. Latex International is the only company making 100% natural Talalay latex and they add no sand fillers to their latex. When shopping for your new organic latex mattress, purchase from a company that buys their latex from these companies and you will know you are getting good latex in your mattress.

You may be asking yourself by now why I haven’t mentioned organic latex. After all, I have insisted on organic wool and cotton, why not organic latex? The simple reason is that it doesn’t exist! Although most latex that is produced would probably be organic, there is no certifying body that has certified it as organic. Rest assured the latex in your organic latex mattress, if it is natural latex, is as good as it can be. There is just no certification as of the date of this publication.

The new wave of latex mattress that is sweeping the bedding market is the mattress that comes to the consumer in pieces and must be assembled once it is received. This mattress is truly a wonderful product and is often misunderstood. After it is assembled, it resembles and sleeps like a traditional latex mattress. The benefits of this type of latex mattress are numerous. The shipping of the “break-down” mattress is very economical and affordable to a larger number of consumers. Traditional mattresses can be very costly to ship, especially if they have to travel a long distance to get to the consumer. Lower shipping costs allow for a comfort exchange policy that affords the consumer the option to ship back a layer single layer of the mattress to achieve a different comfort level. If a consumer purchases the wrong comfort level of mattress, they simply exchange one of the layers of the mattress. This makes for a very convenient transaction as the consumer usually sends back the layer they wish to exchange only after the new one is received from the company. This makes for no “down time” without a mattress. Buying a new mattress is a complicated, nerve-racking endeavor that is rarely perfected in one try. Even when purchasing a mattress from a brick and mortar store, you lie on the mattress for 15 minutes to determine if the new mattress will be comfortable for the next sevaral years. Then you get the mattress home and it’s not exactly what you wanted, but you live with it because it’s such a hassle returning it. With this new type of mattress, if you don’t perfect it the first time, you simply request a comfort exchange. By the time you decide you will do a comfort exchange, you know exactly what the problem is. If the mattress is too firm, you send back a firmer layer for a softer one. If the mattress is too soft, you send back a soft layer for a firmer one. And the best part of all, you don’t have to decide the perfect combination in 15 minutes in a store. You sleep on the mattress at home and have usually up to 90 days, depending on manufacturer, to determine what it is you need to make the mattress perfect.

One thing to consider with this type of mattress is whether or not the individual layers inside are covered. This sounds like a trivial thing and something that is perhaps not necessary. In fact, some companies (those that do not offer covered latex layers) may try to talk you out of purchasing a bed with no covered layers. However, covered layers are VERY IMPORTANT to the functionality and durability of the mattress. Covering the layers makes them more durable and easier to handle when assembling the bed or rearranging the layers to achieve a different comfort level. Latex, by its inherent nature is susceptible to ripping and tearing if it is handled too rough or is tugged too hard. Some manufacturers and retailers claim that covering the layers will change the comfort levels of the latex by covering them. However, this is not true as the layers are covered in organic cotton that has stretch to it. The stretch in the fabric allows for the latex to keep its original level of comfort and affords the protection of the latex that is of major importance for this type of mattress. Many manufacturers will also claim that covering the latex allows the latex layers to slide inside the mattress. However, this also is not true. The organic cotton used to cover the latex prevents the layers from moving inside the mattress. Also preventing the layers from moving inside the mattress is the cover. The layers fit snug inside the cover, thus not allowing the layers to move around. Covering the layers is an added expense that most manufacturers forego. These manufacturers try to explain away the reasons for not covering the individual latex layers, but the bottom line is their main reason for not covering the layers. Latex that is damaged while trying to assemble the mattress or while removing the latex for a comfort exchange will, in most cases, not be exchanged and voids the warranty. It cannot be stressed enough; if you purchase a mattress that has individual layers that are accessible, be sure those layers are covered.

Another consideration when purchasing your new organic latex mattress is the foundation to put the mattress on. A latex mattress needs a sturdy foundation, but also one that will allow the mattress to ‘breathe’. If you are purchasing a foundation from the company you are buying your mattress from, be sure that the base has ample slats to support the heavy weight of the mattress. A good base for a latex mattress has slats that are no more than 2 inches apart. Also be sure that the cover on the base is the same organic cotton fabric that your mattress is made of. Be sure that the wood in the base is untreated wood and any glue used in the base is a water-based, non toxic glue. While purchasing a matching base with your mattress makes for an aesthetically pleasing set, it is not necessary. However, the proper support for your new latex mattress is very important and improper support for the mattress will void the warranty. To be sure your mattress performs properly and your warranty is valid, I highly suggest purchasing the matching base at the time you purchase the mattress.

Finally, consider the return policy for the company. Are you stuck with the mattress if you are not happy or can you return it? The best policy is some type of comfort exchange, especially with the ‘break down’ mattresses. Most, if not all companies require that the consumer pays the shipping costs to return the mattress. This is an inevitable part of doing business online. If you are unwilling to pay this fee, you should consider not purchasing your mattress on the internet. However, I have found that the savings of purchasing online far outweigh the cost of a possible comfort exchange. You must also consider that many of the mattress stores today charge a restocking fee for any mattress that is returned and the customer is responsible for returning the mattress to the store or for any fees associated with the store picking up the mattress from the customers home. I also find that the customer service for many online companies surpasses that of most brick and mortar stores.

You are paying a lot of money for your new mattress, be sure you are getting what you are paying for. I am not saying that you shouldn’t pay good money for a good mattress. When it comes to latex mattresses, the old saying “you get what you pay for” is truly applicable. When you purchase your organic latex mattress, it could last you up to 30 years. There is no coil or memory foam mattress on the market that can make that claim. And the health benefits of an organic latex mattress are truly unduplicated. Take your time in purchasing your new mattress. Consider the company’s ship time. You want to buy from a company that will ship your order in a reasonable amount of time. If a company tells you it will be 4-6 weeks for your product to ship, that’s too long. A reasonable amount of time to ship your order is anything less than a week and the sooner the better. Also consider the transportation time. Just because a company says it will ship your order in 3 days, it will not appear in 3 days! The average transportation time is 4 days. Remember, most manufacturers will charge your credit card when you place your order and will put your order into production only after receiving payment. Be sure to ask questions and get the answers to your questions. Any reputable company that is doing what they should be doing will be happy to answer any and all questions you may have. If you follow this guide and ask the questions you need to ask, buying that organic latex mattress will be an easy task that will lead to many nights of sweet organic, chemical-free dreams.